For some reason, “moose have been in the nooze” this winter in my part of Wyoming. There have been some good news stories, some crime news, some locked antler battles and even two moose rescue stories.
My favorite is about Lander’s “town moose” which was roaming throughout the town during February and early March.
This character was a young female that soon found herself happily cruising the back yards, nibbling on brush and plants. She was very happy until she made a wrong turn and found herself one morning in a playground at Baldwin Creek Elementary School.
Police and Game and Fish folks said enough was enough.
Police officer Chuck Carr and Brian DeBolt, the G&F large carnivore coordinator, sedated her and hauled her a long ways away to the South Pass area. One officer was quoted as saying: “The poor gal. She really wasn’t causing any trouble. Just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
While schools in other parts of the country are worrying about armed killers, here in Wyoming, we are dealing with lost Bullwinkles. We have a lot to be thankful for.
Not sure, but this young critter looked a lot like the wandering moose I took a photo of in the desert between South Pass and Farson last summer. Could this be the ultimate wandering moose?
Perhaps that moose was a descendant of Lander’s most famous town moose who spent the winter of 1986 before wandering the streets and backyards for finally heading back to the mountains come spring.
She was so ubiquitous in our town that our local newspaper held a contest to name her. Winning name was “Rosie of the Popo Agie.” She pretty much liked to hang around the river, hence her name. Quite a sight to see a moose almost any time you wanted to.
My first experience with a Wyoming moose occurred back in 1971 when a pressman at our newspaper named Stan Rice told me about a huge bull on the Loop Road above Lander. He said it would arrive at Grannier Meadows each evening about sundown.
Sure enough, we went up there and snapped some wonderful photos of this monarch. All summer, we would take our relatives and friends up there to see this amazing animal.
I recall Stan warning me about putting the photos in the paper, as it might alert hunters to an easy kill. But darn it, the photos were great.
Sure enough, the monarch was slain that fall.
Last fall, two local Fremont County people and two Gillette guys were arrested for wantonly killing four moose and leaving them to rot near Hudson.
What a stupid and crazy waste.
Wyoming folks like their guns but they really love their wildlife. Poaching and killing wild animals in a wanton manner is not taken lightly. These folks are facing some serious charges.
My friend Carol Hickner was hiking above Sinks Canyon recently when a moose charged her and chased her down the hill.
She felt she barely escaped with her life. An unreal experience. Glad she was fit enough to get away.
Perhaps the most amazing Moose Nooze to come out was when Rob Weller encountered a calf moose all tangled up in barbwire.
The calf was going to die unless someone rescued it.
Not sure what to do and sure that its mother was watching from somewhere near, he still decided to try to free the young fellow.
He took some photos of the tangled up calf, which showed just how desperate its situation was.
Ultimately, Weller took the chance and the cut the calf loose.
The calf lumbered off to its mother who had suddenly appeared and they loped off together. Whew, not sure I would have been willing to do that. Good work.
Perhaps the most dramatic thing in nature is when two bucks, two bulls or two rams battle each other to impress their potential mates. The action is fierce and looks deadly. And it is deadly. Last fall Jackson game warden Jerry Longobardi investigated a report of two moose that had been battling and apparently died during the effort.
One moose had a broken neck and the other had a broken jaw. They were huge but because they were discovered shortly after they died, some 600 pounds of meat were harvested and donated. The huge locked antlers were taken by the G&F to be displayed later. Photos of the event are available on the Wyoming G&F web site.
Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns and blogs at www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com.